- Most Goals in a Season by a Defenseman - 48
- Most Shorthanded Goals in a Season by a Defenseman - 9
- Most Points in One Game by a Defenseman - 8
- Most Assists in One Game by a Defenseman - 6
- Longest Point Scoring Streak by a Defenseman - 28 games
Sunday, December 13, 2009
It was on this day in 1995 that Paul Coffey became the first defenseman in NHL history, and only the fourth player, along with the usual suspects Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Marcel Dionne, to record 1,000 career assists.
Coffey was originally drafted 6th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and played with the Oilers from 1980-81 to 1986-87, winning three Stanley Cups during the Oilers record breaking, high scoring offensive dynasty. His offensive output during that era would leave today's forwards envious and amount to career totals for many players.
After his first season, in which he scored 32 points, Coffey rocketed up to 89 points in his second season followed by 96 in his third.
Things really took off in 1983-84 when Coffey scored 40 goals and 86 assists for 126 points, placing him second overall in league scoring ahead of the likes of offensive legends Michel Goulet, Peter Stastny and Mike Bossy!
His nearly identical point totals in 1984-85 placed him 5th in league scoring with 121 points and help earn him his first Norris Trophy. He ramped things up in 1985-86, setting a number of record in the process, with 48 goals and 90 assists for 138 points and a second consecutive Norris Trophy.
Records Coffey set that season include:
After one more season in Edmonton, Coffey was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who would finish last that season despite NHL scoring leader Mario Lemeiux. It was at this point that Coffey followed in the footsteps of Phil Esposito and Ray Bourque and changed from #7 to #77. The arrival of Coffey would contribute to the Penguins rise to the Stanley Cup Championship four seasons later in 1991.
Coffey's highest scoring season in Pittsburgh was 30 goals and 83 assists for 113 points. During the Penguins Stanley Cup Championship run in 1991, Coffey would score 11 points in 12 games.
He would not repeat as Cup Champion with his Penguins teammates in 1991-92, as he would be dealt to the Los Angeles Kings during a season when he would pass Denis Potvin as the career leader in goals, assists and points by a defenseman.
Reunited with former Oilers teammates Gretzky and Jari Kurri, he would play in parts of two seasons with the Kings prior to being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 1993.
During the lockout shortened season of 1994-95, Coffey would lead the Red Wings in scoring and win his third Norris Trophy. It was during the next season that Coffey would reach the 1,000 assist barrier, the first defenseman to ever accomplish that feat.
After four seasons in Detroit, Coffey would be dealt to the Hartford Whalers, who would then move him to the Philadelphia Flyers after only 20 games with the Whalers. Coffey would finish out his career with two seasons in Philadelphia, a brief 10-game stint with the Chicago Blackhawks before moving on to the Carolina Hurricanes for a season and a half before winding it down with 18 games with the Boston Bruins in 2000-01.
His final NHL totals of 396 goals and 1135 assists for 1531 points rank second all time among defensemen behind only Bourque.
Coffey would win four Stanley Cups, three Norris Trophies, play in 14 NHL All-Star Games and be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and had his #7 retired by the Oilers in 2005.
One must speculate on just why a player as skilled and highly regarded as Coffey changed teams so many times during his career. His departure from Edmonton was in part due to Oilers owner Peter Pocklington's financial situation, but he had also openly feuded with Oilers coach and GM Glen Sather, who actually benched Coffey late in his record setting 1985-86 season for paying too much attention to offense, costing Coffey what would certainly have been the single season scoring record by a defenseman, which he missed tying by a single point.
Coffey also cost himself several more likely Stanley Cups by openly feuding with coach Scotty Bowman in both Pittsburgh and later Detroit.
The bottom line is we just cannot sweep under the rug that Coffey was dealt away from Pittsburgh during a season they would win a second consecutive Stanley Cup, spent just 60 games in Los Angeles and was traded away during a season they would make the Cup Finals, was moved out of Detroit just before they would capture two consecutive Stanley Cups, played only 20 games in Hartford before asking to be traded. We will cut him some slack for the trades late in his career, as that happens to many a veteran player, but the fact remains that four clubs reached or won the Stanley Cup Finals within a year of trading Coffey away from their club and Coffey was on the losing side in Cup Finals sweeps in 1995 in Detroit and 1997 with Philadelphia, when he was particularly victimized by the Red Wings.
Despite the questions about the frequent changes in teams and their timing, there's no denying his spectacular point totals while in Edmonton and his 138 points in 1985-86, one shy of the record held by Bobby Orr, and his 126 points in 1983-84 which ranks fourth all-time.
Internationally, Coffey played for Canada in the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments, winning the championship each time, the 1990 World Championships and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1994-95 Detroit Red Wings Paul Coffey jersey. This jersey features the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals patch as worn by the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup Finals that season. The Stanley Cup Finals patches were first worn in 1989 when the Calgary Flames defeated the Montreal Canadiens and have been worn by the two finalists ever since.
Here is a summary of Paul Coffey's career, highlighted by his time in Pittsburgh.
This video begins with a tribute video produced by the Edmonton Oilers on the occasion of Coffey's jersey retirement in 2005 and precedes his jersey retirement ceremony.